"I don’t think it’s going to be that long until we can create scenes with basically perfect fidelity."
Butterscotch, Starburst, Holocake 2, and Mirror Lake aren't military codewords, up-and-coming Soundcloud rappers, or Petfinder pups.
Instead, they're the names of four newly-unveiled, purportedly advanced virtual reality headset prototypes by Meta Reality Labs — devices, Meta claims, that represent movement toward a virtual experience that's "indistinguishable from reality."
Revealed by Meta-formerly-Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who was joined by Reality Labs chief scientist Michael Abrash at a virtual round table last week, this is an alleged milestone for a project — already billions of dollars in the making — that plays a central role in the company's longterm aspirations for a fully-immersive Metaverse.
"I think we’re in the middle right now of a big step forward towards realism,” said Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg in one of a several videos accompanying the round table event. "I don’t think it’s going to be that long until we can create scenes with basically perfect fidelity."
As Zuckerberg explained in a separate video, each interestingly-named prototype was created with the goal of mastering a different visual challenge they believe is keeping existing VR from being interpreted as "real" by human visual systems: the ability to focus on any depth, getting rid of lens distortion, achieving a resolution as high as the human retina, and sufficient dynamic range to simulate everything from total darkness to a very bright environment.
These four concepts, the metamen say, must be perfected and combined to bring their lofty vision to life. Plus, the headsets have to be comfortable, which presents its own immense challenge.
"To get there, we need to build an unprecedented type of VR display system," Zuckerberg added in last week's briefing. "A lightweight display that is so advanced it can deliver what our eyes need to function naturally so they perceive we are looking at the real world in VR."
While none of these four prototypes pass what Meta Reality Labs calls a "visual Turing Test" quite yet, they may well bring the company a bit closer to the goal of seamlessly integrating extended reality (ER) systems into daily life — a future that Meta seems to be banking on, seeing as how it currently owns about 80 percent of the virtual reality industry's market share.
While these devices might be breakthroughs for the CEO and meat-smoking enthusiast's ever-confusing Metaverse dream, there's still a lot that the Silicon Valley mainstay needs to figure out before these products — and, well, the Metaverse in general — are going to pick up any significant market share.
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